Admit it, you are supposed to be working, but you are sitting there thinking about lunch, or dinner, or even breakfast tomorrow. Sure, it may be that you are hungry because you are actually tired, thirsty or even drinking too much diet soda. Or it may be because you didn't eat breakfast.

It's true that working when you are just a bit hungry (but not too hungry) or on a full stomach (but not that full) does help you work harder and smarter. But there's at least one useful by-product of your food reverie: food itself may be the key to innovating your own business. 

Here are four of the latest food trends and eating habits may help you shape your own business.

1. Personalized Food

It's not enough to just sell a juicy, ripe fruit anymore, because your customers want things made and designed exactly for them--even things from nature. Now even fruits and veggies are coming personalized with laser etchings and unique tattoo designs. What started as a way to replace those fruit stickers has now become a new way to put your own mark on your food.

Example of a brand doing this well: The "Share a Coke" campaign, which features names on Coke cans and personalized sayings, has been successful in innovating how we personalize on a large-scale

2. Food From One's Own Backyard

While people want food that has unique flavors from across the world--customers also prefer food that isn't shipped in from anywhere--even across one's state. Called "hyperlocal" cuisine, this is food plucked from a nearby source, such as a restaurant's garden or foraged from local woods. Customers want to feel like the food they eat has been carefully curated and collected for them. One classic example of this: Westchester, New York's Blue Hill at Stone Barns, which grows it's own food and bases its tasting menu on which foods are ripe and ready to harvest from their farm.

Example of a brand doing this well: Airbnb may be a global business, but it feels "homegrown" with its ability to directly tap into local needs and sensibilities. Companies need to find ways to serve local communities and feel "authentic."

3. Food As An Experience

People want their food interactions to not only be tasty and healthy, but also entertaining and fulfilling. Food should be a full sensory experience, with colors, sights, sounds and smells. Customers want to participate directly in the food preparation and sharing--and may want to be involved in the cooking (for instance, see the sudden popularity of boxed ingredient kits, such as Blue Apron and Green Chef). Consider, for instance: how can your customers act as co-creators or part of the creative experience? How can your brand feel more like an experience rather than just one-time consumption?

Example of a brand doing this well: M&Ms has been including people in the "M&Ms" experience for years, whether naming the next color or participating in an augmented reality extravaganza

4. Accessible Food

It's no longer one type of food fits all. Preparing for all different food needs and allergies has become a must-have part of the experience, whether for restaurants, caterers, or home cooks hosting guests. Likewise, companies need to consider how to make their products more accessible to people with different abilities, needs, and experience levels. Even simple changes to your product or website can help to make sure that all potential customers feel like they belong.

Example of a brand doing this well: Apple's website is one of the more accessible websites, and follows most accessibility guidelines, such as those evaluated through a WAVE (Web Accessibility Versatile Evaluator) report. 

Published on: Apr 16, 2018